NWSL’s busy trade deadline; USWNT Olympic hopefuls injured: Full Time

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NWSL’s busy trade deadline; USWNT Olympic hopefuls injured: Full Time

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Which goal this weekend was your favorite? Croix Bethune dodging defenders, Claire Emslie’s tasty chip, Tziarra King’s rocket moments after subbing in, or Mal Swanson’s pinpoint placement? Vote here and then let’s get into it.

I’m Emily Olsen here with Meg Linehan, Steph Yang and Jeff Rueter — welcome to Full Time!

Trade Deadline

On Friday, the Houston Dash honored forward María Sánchez’s request to be traded, sending her to the San Diego Wave for $300,000 in intra-league transfer funds, $200,000 in allocation money and an international slot for 2024 and 2025.

Sánchez just signed a blockbuster $1.5 million contract with the Dash in December 2023, one that was supposed to keep her in Houston through 2026, with an option to extend a year. That deal now looks like a bust for the Dash, especially considering the early returns on four NWSL megadeals that followed it:

Sánchez, meanwhile, managed no goals and one assist for 12th-placed Houston. The move to San Diego will be a fresh start for both.



Dash trade Maria Sanchez to San Diego Wave

Other transfer deadline moves

While Houston and Sánchez took the headlines, a handful of other moves happened ahead of Friday’s deadline.

  • Portland picked up goalkeeper Emily Alvarado from Houston
  • Gotham added Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger
  • Angel City made a pair of “strategic” trades that did not go over well with fans, sending defender Paige Nielsen to Houston in exchange for $50,000 in allocation money and $50,000 in transfer funds; and midfielder Amandine Henry to the Utah Royals FC in exchange for $75,000 in allocation money.
  • After their game this weekend, Angel City defender Sarah Gorden thanked fans for their support:

“It’s been an emotional week for everyone, and I just want to give a shoutout to the fans and to the people that are here to ride for the players that we have here”

A concerning Trend

Two USWNT starters join a growing injury list

USWNT starters Alex Morgan (San Diego) and Tierna Davidson (Gotham) were forced out of their respective matches due to injuries this weekend. There are worries about both players’ status ahead of the Olympics, with both in the mix to start in France.

(Photo by Nathan Ray Seebeck, USA TODAY Sports)

For Morgan, it was an apparent ankle injury after a tough tackle in a scramble near goal; for Davidson, a non-contact hamstring issue. It’s not just USWNT players either. Two players announced ACL tears this week, with Chicago Red Stars’ Ava Cook and Bay FC’s Alex Loera joining the unfortunate club. We’re not still where we need to be with injury prevention in the NWSL.



ACL injuries are a risk for male and female footballers but so much is still unknown

Meg’s Corner: The difference a little time will make

We’re through week five of the NWSL season and it feels like everything is happening all at once (the NWSL way).

Aside from a rather active trade deadline and the injury news, the soccer on the pitch was extremely captivating.

KC Current remains perfect atop the table for another week, this time dispatching Bay FC 5-2. Bia and Temwa Chawinga each had a brace, and are leading the league with matching stats (4 goals, 2 assists). As we highlighted last week, they are promising to be one of the most dynamic duos in NWSL — up there with Lynn Williams and Jessica McDonald, or Sam Kerr and Yuki Nagasato, if not better.

Racing Louisville also remains undefeated, getting their first win under Bev Yanez in dominating fashion with a 5-1 victory over the Utah Royals at home. Best of all, they had a record crowd of 11,365 in attendance. I feel like when you watch a win like that, you’re going to want to come back.

Finally, after a shake-up in the technical staff for Portland, with Mike Norris now serving as the club’s technical director and Rob Gale appointed interim head coach, the Thorns bounced back with intent against the Dash. With Christine Sinclair scoring the first goal on Saturday night, then Smith, Olivia Moultrie and Janine Beckie all finding the back of the net, it was a reminder of the true potential of the team. What a difference a week makes.

Film Session

A rookie bossing the league

In the 2024 NWSL Draft’s aftermath, a lot of focus went to the pair of UNC teammates who went No. 1 and 2. Croix Bethune fell to 3rd, likely due to a trio of ACL tears before the end of her college career. Utah and Bay can be forgiven for taking the cautious route, but Bethune’s first few NWSL games show they may have passed on a truly special attacker. The Athletic’s Jeff Rueter took a closer look after yet another goal from the Spirit rookie:

Gotham learned the hard way on Saturday when Bethune’s Washington Spirit hosted the defending champs. In the 41st minute, the Spirit had come close to opening the scoring via Trinity Rodman. The ball quickly returned to their control and Casey Krueger spotted Bethune nestled between four Gotham defenders. Somehow, this pass paid off.

Rather than squaring up to the ball to collect it, Bethune turned her body toward the left sideline to receive possession in a more attacking stance. She swiftly sized up a pair of Gotham defenders…

…shimmied between them, and uncorked a beautiful strike that flew past a diving Cassie Miller. Washington went on to win 2-0, giving the team 12 points through five games. Bethune has provided three goals in her first five NWSL games and seems bound to provide many more highlights with decision-making like this.

We probably should have known Bethune meant business when she showed up to the game in black Air Force 1s.

Full Time First Looks

The NWSL wasn’t alone in on-field entertainment this weekend, the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals also delivered. Future USWNT head coach Emma Hayes and Chelsea stunned Barcelona with structure and execution that was “bang on.”

Elsewhere, Lindsey Horan and Lyon overcame a 2-0 deficit with 10 minutes to go. They came back to defeat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in the first leg. It’s Lyon, of course they weren’t going to let a UWCL game slip away without a fight. Either way, this week’s second legs are bound to be exciting.

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(Top photo: Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports)